Friday, October 26, 2001

Kenton could guide locale of sex zone

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — A citizens committee studying where to locate sexually oriented businesses will recommend that Covington officials look to county planners for guidance.

        “The committee's not advocating that the city create an adult-entertainment zone, but if the city feels compelled to create one, we feel that the zone should be consistent with the comprehensive plan update that we're anticipating,” said Mary Ann Stewart, who chairs the Covington citizens committee.

        Kenton County planners are expected to adopt an updated five-year comprehensive plan for development in late December.

        Ms. Stewart will present the citizens committee's recommendations to the Covington City Commission on Tuesday. That body will have the final say on how sexually oriented businesses are handled.

        The Covington citizens committee thinks that businesses such as adult bookstores and strip clubs should not be located in the city's downtown.

        It also is expected to propose that Covington look into strengthening licensing requirements for such businesses, that the city strictly enforce applicable codes for existing adult-entertainment businesses, and that it look into increasing its licensing fees for them to better cover the costs of enforcement and investigation.

        Covington Mayor Butch Callery formed the citizens committee to recommend where sexually oriented businesses should go, after the city ran into opposition when it proposed establishing an adult-entertainment zone along parts of Fourth and Fifth streets, as well as some of Scott Boulevard and Madison Avenue.

        The committee updating Kenton County's comprehensive plan is expected to recommend allowing “limited non-industrial uses,” which could include businesses such as adult bookstores and strip clubs, in areas that are not likely to be used for major industrial purposes.

        The committee updating the county's comprehensive plan also is recommending that such businesses should not be near schools, residential zones, day-care facilities, schools, churches or other public/or semi-public community facilities.

        Alex Weldon, a member of the citizens committee who also sits on the Kenton County & Municipal Planning and Zoning Commission, said that it's up to individual cities to determine what that buffer zone is.

        Covington's buffer zone between sexually oriented businesses and development such as schools and churches, is now set at 500 feet, but a 1986 U.S. Supreme Court ruling upheld a 1,000-foot buffer zone in another city, Ms. Stewart said.

        The Covington citizens committee also would prefer to see any adult entertainment businesses locate within an industrial area that's not within view of the interstate highway system or major arterial roads — also called for in the draft update of Kenton County's comprehensive plan.

        And rather than locate such businesses in big industrial areas, the Covington citizens committee is recommending that they go in smaller pockets.

        “I think that that's been a concern at the planning commission level,” Ms. Stewart said. “They were saying, "Look, there's so little industrial land in Kenton County. Don't waste it. ... Save it for heavy industry.'”


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